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Richard Ashcroft :: The Wiltern

April 5, 2017
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Shot for BUZZBANDS.LA

The Verve’s frontman Richard Ashcroft was nicknamed “Mad Richard” back in the 1990s due to his occasionally volatile attitude, but his supposed madness has now settled into a simpler britpop glory-day bravado. Since The Verve broke up in 1999, Ashcroft has recorded five solo albums, most recently 2016’s “These People.” Though the Verve attempted a short-lived comeback in 2008, Ashcroft has now accepted that he is no longer who he was in his 20s. With “These People,” Ashcroft boasts a more vitriolic view of society but still with signature uplifting strings and weighty lyrics.

Headlining the Wiltern on Monday night, the shaved-headed Ashcroft took the stage (surprisingly, a few minutes early) in a sparkling sequins jacket and sunglasses. Accompanied by a 4-piece band, he opened the evening with “Out Of My Body” from the new record. The venue was filled with a large number of ex-pats and everyone seemed fixated on Ashcroft’s immediate swagger. He performed a few favorite Verve tracks, “Sonnet” and “Space and Time,” but it was some of his newer material that made a real dent in the evening. Ashcroft has a knack for pointed song titles like “They Don’t Own Me,” and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Hurt.” During “Music Is Power,” Ashcroft snidely said, “I’d like to thank the Curtis Mayfield Foundation for letting me sample this. We did a 50/50 deal, unlike another famous song of mine.” The song went on as a huge anthem jam with Ashcroft flexing and lifting his shirt to pound on his chest.

Ashcroft closed the main set with The Verve’s “Lucky Man” and returned for a 3-song encore featuring an acoustic version of “The Drugs Don’t Work,” “Hold On,” and the impassioned “Bittersweet Symphony,” during which he fell to his knees, encouraged the audience to sing with him, and still managed to belt out a very powerful and poignant “Have you ever been down?”

Richard Ashcroft was supported by Los Angeles singer-songwriter Alexa Merrill.

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